Nepal 2

Sherpa film review and remembering a trip to Nepal

In August 1975 our family flew to Kathmandu to visit my uncle, Andrew Quarmby, an aid worker and film-maker, his wife Diana and our cousin Sarah. Andrew and my dad, Michael, had been keen walkers since their days growing up in hill-country in Yorkshire, as sons of farmers. Now they wanted to take all of us on a trail that was only just unfolding – all the way to the village of Kunde, near Khumjung, nestled just a few miles below Everest Base Camp. My dad and uncle were to walk on to Base Camp, whilst the rest of us stayed there.

We had moved to the flattest of counties, Norfolk, when my dad got a headship there, a year or so earlier. This made training for walking in the Himalayas a little tricky. There was one slope, which my mum and dad thought would do. We would trek up and down it, twenty or thirty times after school, and if we did well we would be given Maryland cookies as a reward. We had to save our money (our parents were teachers, so didn’t have a lot of cash) so we had very small baths for many months before the big trip. We took with us a lot of Beanfeast dried food (mmm) and dried porridge. (This later became my moment of triumph, as a porridge refusenik. As I rejected it, near starvation, consistently, every day on a 20 mile trek in the Himalayas, I was eventually allowed to bow out of daily porridge at home when we returned. I have never eaten it since.)

We arrived in Kathmandu in summer 1975 – monsoon season. We were staying with Andrew and Diana, and their housekeepers, Nema and Pemba, who were Sherpas. They were to accompany us on our travels to Khunde and Khumjung, and hired other Sherpas to come with us as well. I loved Nema and Pemba, who became real friends to us, as they were to Andrew, Diana and Sarah. I don’t remember when we set out from Kathmandu, but I remember that we walked around 20 miles a day. I was nine years old, and my cousin Sarah, only seven. My brothers were just a few years older. Sarah, the youngest, never complained and like me, was only ever carried across rivers where the current was too strong for us to ford. I can still remember Sherpas fording them for us with a rope and then my dad and Andrew and the boys using the rope to guide themselves across. I remember one day, my foot covered in blisters, feeling too sore to carry on, on a high mountain track, and stopping with my dad. I don’t know how long we were on our own, as the others walked on, but I was grateful for that time he spent with me, when I just couldn’t walk any further.

Then there were the leeches, which sucked our blood, voraciously. My mum, being close to a Buddhist, would let them take their fill and drop off. The Sherpas would touch them with a cigarette and watch them drop off. My brother John, now a doctor, would watch them approach him, half horrified, half fascinated. My brother Chris, who was always hungry, was particularly interested in explorer Chris Bonington’s expedition, hurrying along ahead of us, and dropping Spangles wrappers as it went. Sometimes he would catch them up and beg them for food. There were a few bad days when our Sherpas went on strike as Chris Bonington was paying his Sherpas more, apparently. It all got sorted out, but even then, money and fair conditions were an issue. As of course they should be.

Which brings us on to the wonderful, evocative film Sherpa, which is rightly nominated for a Bafta (winners to be announced on 14 February). This beautifully shot and observed film gives Sherpas back their rightful place in Nepalese history and culture, centering on the 2014 climbing season, from the Sherpa point of view. That sharpened when an avalanche down Everest’s Khumbu’s Icefall killed 16 Sherpas. The government reaction (at first) was inadequate – even pitiful. The film also discussed the confrontation the year before between Sherpas and climbers and went back in time to the first ever ascent of Everest (at least by a Westerner with a Sherpa) in 1953, by Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary. We don’t seem to have matured much since then. I certainly felt, at the film’s end, that we in the West need to step back from our interest in ‘conquering’ Everest, or Chomolungma as the Sherpas call it, and ask ourselves why some think they need to get to the top – especially when it means risking lives. Why can’t tourism be more sustainable? Why can’t there be more treks in the Himalayas that don’t go all the way to the top? Why do the tour guides refer to Sherpas as ‘boys’ – which certainly resonated to me, and not in a good way – with one person who had been paid to get to the top even asking about why a tour organiser couldn’t speak to the ‘owner’ of a supposed trouble-maker?

I realise, looking back, how lucky we were to have an uncle and parents who didn’t have money, but who did give us the opportunity to trek in the Himalayas as children, albeit on Beanfeast and local food, rather than shelling out £50,000 for an organised tour. I still remember so much of what we did – playing for hours with local children in Kunde, with bits of film rejected from the local hospital, staying in local houses where the smoke got in your eyes, eating chickens that you had seen killed just a few hours earlier, drinking the local salty tea, the beautiful local temples and prayer flags and the lush green scenery that always, always hid a leech. My dad and uncle never made it to Everest Base Camp – my uncle developed malaria. They got within sight of it, and then they turned back, and my dad helped his younger brother off the mountain, as he sickened. They both made it down alive.

Sherpa deserves to win a Bafta, because it treats the Nepalese people with respect and it sets Everest and those who want to climb in a wider, more universal context. The struggle the Sherpas are going through to determine their destiny is mirrored in other struggles around the world.  This beautifully crafted film captures the perplexity of so many of us in the West when we are faced with old stereotypes – ‘happy smiling Sherpas’, as one organiser put it, falling away and being replaced by reality – Sherpas demanding what we demand for ourselves – respect.







Remembering the Holocaust – and the disabled victims who died in the T4 programme

Katharine Quarmby

In this extract from my book, Scapegoat: why we are failing disabled people (Portobello, 2011), on Holocaust Memorial Day, I am sharing my analysis of how the T4 Nazi killing machine was inspired by eugenics enthusiasts in the UK and the US. It’s a grim read, I’m afraid, but important to remember why so many people died. Never again.

Extract from: Scapegoat: why we are failing disabled people (Portobello, 2011)

by Katharine Quarmby

The legitimisation of eugenic views through Europe and American ended in a logical, if horrifying outcome: the systematic murder of thousands of disabled people in Germany, after the Nazis came to power in 1933. The National Socialist Party wanted to create a pure Aryan nation, and eradicate the taint of the Jewish people (as well as homosexuals and gypsies) But a lesser known part of their moral thought was that “degenerate”, impaired Aryans should also be eliminated…

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Remembering the Holocaust – and the Roma who died amongst the many victims

Katharine Quarmby

I have been very moved by the many wonderful contributions to Holocaust Memorial Day, all around the world.

Here’s my contribution – a short extract from my book, No Place to Call Home: Inside the Real Lives of Gypsies and Travellers, published by Oneworld Publications in 2013. It contains a passage about the lesser known history of the Roma who perished during the Holocaust, along with all the other victims. I will also be publishing an extract from my book, Scapegoat: how we are failing disabled people (Portobello, 2011), today, which has a short section on the disabled people who were victims of the Holocaust, under the T4 killing programme.

Extract from No Place to Call Home: Inside the Real Lives of Gypsies and Travellers (Oneworld Publications, 2013)

by Katharine Quarmby

 No reproduction without permission from publishers

The hatred of the Roma people, intense enough in the UK…

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House of Lords reform – my IPPR paper, Straight To The Senate (1997)

I dug this it out of a cupboard today and dusted it down – so many of the arguments about the legitimacy of the second chamber still hold true today. When I worked as a researcher for the Labour leader and front-bench in the House of Lords in the mid-nineties, we spent a lot of time amending hastily drafted and often draconian bills sent up from the Commons – and sometimes our amendments even survived going back to the Commons. But, of course, the fact that the Lords was not elected always meant it was hobbled – until this week. My argument, in 1997, that we needed an elected second chamber (and, in hindsight, it was a grave error of the Blair government not to push straight for this), is still true today, I believe.

Here’s the paper – one of two that the Institute for Public Policy Research published – the other from John Osmond, then Director of the Institute for Welsh Affairs. I haven’t included his for copyright reasons.


Assisted suicide – the arguments

Today Members of Parliament will vote on the Second Reading of a Bill which would, if passed, legalise assisted suicide (or dying, if you prefer), in the UK. It is estimated that, if passed, it would mean that around 1,500 would be ‘helped to die’ if it became law.

In 2010 I wrote an article for The Economist that rehearsed the arguments for and against assisted suicide (or dying, I’m trying to be even-handed here). So here’s a few extracts from the piece again –  which looks briefly at the state of play in Oregon, on which the bill is largely modelled and the Netherlands.

I’m still sceptical, for what it’s worth. I like the fact that the guidelines introduced in 2010 honour the love and affection of those who take difficult decisions about those they love and feel under unbearable pressure to help them die (we have no idea what we would do in similar situations) but do not give carte blanche to everyone to get rid of elderly or disabled relations who they just don’t want around any more. Case by case – it just seems a better way to look at this difficult area.

The Economist – July 1, 2010

THE argument over the ethics of assisting the terminally ill to die is sharpening, as two recent cases concentrate minds. On June 25th Keir Starmer, the director of public prosecutions, said that Michael Irwin and Alan Cutkelvin Rees would not be prosecuted for helping Raymond Cutkelvin, who had pancreatic cancer, die at a Swiss clinic in 2007. Prosecuting would not be in the public interest, he held: Mr Rees was motivated by compassion; Mr Irwin, a former doctor, was an elderly man; and neither had profited from the death.

At issue is whether it should be legal to help a sufferer who wants to take his own life, or whether this might put pressure on the sick, the disabled and the elderly to call it quits early. In February the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) issued new guidelines on when someone might expect to be prosecuted for assisting suicide. Debbie Purdy, who has multiple sclerosis, had asked the courts to clarify whether her husband would be prosecuted if the couple travelled to Dignitas, a clinic in Switzerland, to end her life. Mr Starmer stressed that the guidelines did not decriminalise assisting someone to die or “open the door to euthanasia”, and that no case was absolutely prosecution-proof. But all sides welcomed the new stress on a suspect’s motivation.

Sir Ken Macdonald, Mr Starmer’s predecessor, likes the new guidelines, saying that they protect people at a vulnerable time in their lives who may feel they are a burden on their families. Like many lawmakers and doctors, he wants the door left open for prosecution, though he says that in practice few are or should be pursued.But many think the law should give greater certainty. Around 100 Britons have trekked to Switzerland to end their days at Dignitas. Other places too permit some form of assisted suicide, including Belgium and the Netherlands and two American states (Oregon and Washington).

Sarah Wootton, the chief executive of Dignity in Dying, a pressure group, points to polls showing that most Britons (including, she says, many disabled people) want a change in law. She argues that assisted dying can be regulated so that it does not endanger the vulnerable. The charity supported an unsuccessful member’s bill in the House of Lords in 2006 which proposed safeguards including a medical assessment by two doctors. A similar proposal last year by Lord Falconer, a former Lord Chancellor, also got nowhere.

Jane Campbell, a disabled peer who chairs the group Not Dead Yet UK, sees things differently. She acknowledges that there “might come a time” when legalisation could be considered. But now is not that time, she argues, because disabled people and those with terminal illness are seen, not as equal members of society, but as a “burden” on the scarce resources of the National Health Service.

A professor of palliative care, Ilora Finlay, also a peer, agrees. She says that better care at the end of life, including advances in pain relief, should allow more people to die naturally. She points to the increase in the number of those seeking an assisted death in Oregon, where it has gone up nearly fourfold since legalisation, and in the Netherlands, where it increased by 13% last year, with a significant rise the year before. (The increase in deaths has triggered an investigation by the health ministry.)

For all their differences, people on both sides of the argument agree that the new CPS guidelines are better than the vacuum they filled, and that clearer thinking about end-of-life care is welcome. But the tussle over assisted suicide will not go away. The Royal Society of Medicine devoted a day to it this week, and a decision on whether Dr Martin is to be prosecuted is expected soon. And once a country has legalised assisted dying the issue is not always laid to rest. Campaigners in the Netherlands are now pushing for elderly people who are “tired of life” to be helped to die too.


Book Review: Jewels of Allah, by Nina Ansary

As Iran and the West enter a detente phase, this subtle, intelligent book offers compelling insight into the role of women in Iran. Nina Ansary, an Iranian academic living in the US since middle childhood when she left her homeland at the onset of the Iranian revolution, concentrates on the situation from that crucial point onwards, but, crucially, also looks back at how women in Iran have sometimes enjoyed emancipation in the past. She brings to life women from Iran’s past, who have held powerful positions in the military, the judiciary and as businesswomen.

Ansary expresses an inconvenient truth – although women were emancipated in law by the Pahlavi regime, in truth because cultural mores had not caught up, the top-down policies did not work as well as had been hoped. The veil was banned, for example, but instead of emancipating all women, many stayed at home rather than venture forth without head-cover – thus driving them back into the home, rather than the objective. She draws attention to the ironic paradox that whilst women’s roles were supposed to be circumscribed by the Islamic Revolution in 1979, in many ways women continued to struggle for freedom and some of the steps the mullahs took underpinned that. (She also discusses the irony of the fact that many women, including feminists, joined the revolution against the Shah – and then regretted it.) The reintroduction of the veil, for example, meant that girls and women from stricter households could venture forth yet again – and did, in increasing numbers, meaning that they had access, crucially, to education. As Ansary says:

“The fact is that the so-called Islamization of education has proven to be responsible for generating unprecedented educational gains for the vast majority of the female population.” Classrooms were strictly segregated, leading to the unintended consequence that girls could learn, undisturbed by the demands of male pupils. Ansary also points out that textbooks were hardly changed, and continued to showcase women in professional roles, giving girls role models to which to aspire.

Girls and women, behind the Islamic curtain, continued their struggle, despite the threats of imprisonment in horrific prisons (in one of which, Evin prison, my own birth father was imprisoned for several years after the Revolution). Their role was bolstered during the Iran-Iraq war, Ansary also notes, when women filled the roles of men fighting on the fronts. As Ansary says:

“Perhaps the government’s failed ideology has been most obvious to a defiant female population that continues to boldly protest their enforced status of inferiority.” Girls and women played a crucial role in the 2009 uprisings, as Ansary says, despite all odds. Women also continued to run a number of important magazines – also crucial because women from all backgrounds, secular and religious, have worked together to combat misogyny. Ansary’s understanding of Islamic feminism is crucial to this middle section of the book.

This is an engaging, fascinating and beautifully written book, countering, as Ansary writes, “convenient half-truths” and expressing instead, as Ansary says, “the audacious history of women in Iran”. Anyone seeking to understand the troubled history of Iran should read it.

I read it with great interest, both as a feminist and as someone with Iranian roots through my birth father (and am grateful for receiving a review copy from the publishers). It gave me insight into the life of my birth family in Iran, in which women in the family had to see members in prison (and one executed) and were stifled, like others, as women.

The book started its life as an academic thesis, and as such is fully footnoted and rigorous. However, it is also engaging in its tone and suitable for all readers. I recommend it whole-heartedly.

Jewels of Allah, by Nina Ansary, published by Revela Press.

Katharine’s own book, Blood and Water, about her search for her Iranian birth family, can be found here:

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Disability hate crime motivation survey – results

About a month ago, I designed and sent out a short survey about disability hate crime, concentrating on motivation, but also covering a few other questions such as location of incidents, gender and race of attackers and nature of the incident or attack. This was done under the auspices of the Disability Hate Crime Network, for which I work as one of the pro bono co-ordinators. Grateful thanks to all the co-ordinators, for all their input – it was so valuable – particularly Simon Green’s thoughts in the very early stages, when we came up with the idea, and later Anne Novis, Stephen Brookes, Mark Cutter, Mel Close, Rosemary Irwin, Sarah Hewitt and Beverley Smith.

We are all very grateful to everyone who has done the survey – it is only a small survey, but we believe it does shed some light on the motivation for some attacks, and hopefully it will lead to more detailed research in the future.

Thanks also to the Guardian newspaper, which has commissioned me to write a short comment piece on the research in Guardian Society. Thanks to Survey Monkey for the survey template. It’s appreciated. It allows not-for-profit organisations like ourselves, with no funding, to carry out small bits of research for free (except for our time). We hope it contributes to the wider debate on what fuels disability hate crime.

Below is a longer summary of the results. Please feel free to share widely and discuss. But bear in mind it is a self-reporting survey, of just 100 disabled people, who we found through personal contacts, the Disability Hate Crime Network, and social media. It’s a start to further research – not an end.

Summary of key findings from disability hate crime motivation survey

Question 1: do you define yourself to be a disabled person?

89% of those completing the survey defined themselves as disabled people.

Some of those who didn’t self-define were completing the survey because other family members had experienced hate crimes.

65 shared their conditions, with some explaining they had done because they felt it had triggered an attack.

One person, who had a number of conditions including anxiety and depression came home after suffering a horrific sexual assault and murderous attack. They wrote: “My neighbours had seen my facial injuries and saw I had lost my front teeth and had put two and two together after watching the local news on TV. They could see how vulnerable I was, and this was when everything escalated so badly that I sold my house to a landlord, moved out and had to rent for a while…I did this as I was desperate to escape the bullying for my daughter and myself.”

Another, with rheumatoid arthritis, causing impaired mobility, was targeted because of their blue badge, as was an amputee, who was shouted at for using a disabled parking bay and called a ‘scrounger’. Another wheelchair user felt they were targeted for having a visible disability.

Question 2: have you experienced a hate crime or hate incident?

87.2% of those responding had experienced a hate crime or incident.

11% had not.

61 explained more about their experiences, which were wide-ranging. Some flashpoints, however, were familiar – public transport, disabled parking bays, jealousy about perceived ‘perks’ and ‘not looking disabled’:

One person said: “I have had cars parked close to the rear of my car to make it difficult for me to load my wheelchair…I’ve experienced a number of incidents. I’ve been chastised

for managing to walk to my front gate without my walking stick, (it’s only a couple of steps). I’ve been insulted for using a disabled toilet and slapped on a bus for using a designated seat. I’ve twice been reported to the DWP for being a ‘bogus’ claimant…had my car repeatedly scratched (16 reports to police), had my car spat on and an egg thrown on it.

Another said: “I was having much needed repairs to our conservatory when a neighbour shouted over the hedge ‘if I was living on benefits I’d have a conservatory too!’ The conservatory came with the house and was over twenty years old.

Another reported: “I’ve had a man trying to take away my walking stick saying I was “too young and beautiful” to use it. I’ve had two men try to shove me out of the way on a pavement because I was walking too slowly and they were trying to get to a pub,

On occasion, children were involved: “I was deliberately barged into by more than one of a group of 8 year French old children who were on the same site as a convention I attended. The children from this language school were harassing disabled attenders of our convention, kicking sticks/crutches out from under people and barging into them “accidentally”. Their supervising adults weren’t supervising properly. My friend who was with me didn’t see the first child bash into me, but she heard them making remarks about my arms and saw the second child bash into me. I was furious as I had noticed the children barging adults off the paths around the site. I complained to the university venue who were useless and my convention organisers who were superb and reported it to the police alongside a number of other disablist, LGB and T phobic hatecrimes our bi convention got on that site. The police took a statement and went around pestering the university venue management till the children’s supervisors were found and doing their supervising which reduced the harassment a bit. The police then didn’t follow up as promised which I found frustrating and I knew no charges could be pressed as identifying the specific children would be hard.”

Another talked about public transport: “I was travelling on a bus to shopping one day and the bus was quite full but a guy who had a pram wanted to sit with his partner and wanted to sit at the front where I was sitting and demanded I move. I said no, and tried to explain about my disability. He called me a ‘spas’ and a ‘mong’ and said I should not be left out.

A lack of understanding of disability is evident:

“I was asked why I use a wheelchair some times but had been seen using sticks on others days, I tried to explain that my condition varies from day to day and on days when I can walk I try to do so. I was then told I was just fat and lazy and was doing it to get benefits. I have been abused for using a blue badge. Been called a spastic, and to go to bloody work…I have been spat at.”

Of the 61 who gave further details about their experience, 11 mentioned being called ‘scroungers’ or being told to get off benefits, or that they were too lazy to work.

Question 3 – What was the location of the hate crime or incident?

The locations chimed with places that both the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and I, in both Getting Away with Murder and in my book, Scapegoat, have identified as flashpoints for disabled people in previous research.

24% of attacks happened at home; 57% on the street, 4% in care environments, 20% on public transport, 12.8% in schools or educational establishments, 3% in hospitals and more than one place – 28.5%. This last category allowed people to name other places where attacks took place as well. 26 people added extra comments. A small number reported being attacked or harassed on social media or at work.

Other attacks happened in pubs, supermarkets and in the car. One person said: “This is not a single incident, rather an accumulation of incidents that are very similar. It makes you dread using public transport at times.” 6 out of 26 said that attacks happened in supermarkets and shops.

Question 4: What do you think the motivation for the attack was?

67 answered, and 33 skipped this question.

Interestingly, few people – two – pin-pointed ‘scrounger rhetoric’ as behind disability hate crime although it is important to stress that a larger number had mentioned it in previous answers. 34 said ‘disability hate’ or ‘disability’ without going further. A number – 7- felt that ‘vulnerability’ – a feeling that the attacker could ‘get away with attacking them without any come-back had increased the hatred towards them. There was also a clear theme of jealousy toward perceived ‘perks’ of disability – which some non-disabled people had tried to either exploit or had attacked the disabled person for, out of hostility. One person felt they had been targeted because of their ethnicity and disability.

One person said: “I think the main motivation is “because they can” .. I am in no position to defend myself.. Although the harassment escalated when I took over the tenancy of a local authority garage located on an access road these people believe to be “theirs” (it isn’t)….After taking on the tenancy I started to experience an increase in frequency of incidents of abuse, threats and harrassment culminating in me no longer using the garage, hardly ever leaving the flat and if I do getting in the car and going away from here, no longer sitting in the garden with a book/the radio, constantly being jumpy and nervous, etc..”

The person who experienced the sexual assault wrote: “They saw me ill following the serious assault and I believe the motive was my vulnerability (I had had no problems with these particular neighbours when my health had been normal).”

Another felt that they had been exploited and targeted:

“They saw my disability and were aware of benefits I received. One person became my boyfriend and would threaten to finish with me or harm himself if I didn’t give him money, or buy him mobile phone s. I ended up with eight mobile phone contracts, which I later found out he was selling and using the money for drugs.”

Another wrote:”I wish I knew. People are just plain spiteful. I was an easy target who could never fight back physically, so, I was a punchbag, both physically and mentally.”

One person felt it was a mixture of motives: “exploitation of vulnerable people, attacking someone who can’t fight back, your word against theirs, sadism”.

Another felt it was partly due to the benefits crackdown: “Bigotry, fuelled by propaganda against people on benefits”.

Another person saw it as mixed too: “Venting a prejudice is I think the main motivation. There’s usually some kind of ‘useless’ part of the labelling, a bit of ageism, a bit of disablism, and a very unpleasant bit of invective. Plus a ‘get out of my way, or why are you blocking everything up’, or some such. A typical one, ‘get out of my fucking way you old hag’, or ‘bitch or get back to your shithole you geriatric cow’.”

There was a sense of the perceived uselessness and invisibility of disability. One person wrote: “On one occasion when I fell a man just stepped over me like I was vermin… I have been shoved backwards into the lift as I attempted to leave. Two women walked past me – instead of allowing me to move forward they just carried on walking, pushing me backwards back into the lift door. I felt ignored and overall humiliated.”

Another wrote: “Most of the abuse is from strangers , who now think that every one who is disabled is lying about being ill. Because this government are spreading so many lies, regarding us. Also relations who think you can be better and go to work as you are not ill every day. Also I am sorry to say at church through ignorance. Also benefit assessments. I have also been pushed off of sticks by a stranger who was very abusive.”

This was echoed by others, along with a strong sense of jealousy:

“Disability hostility, resentment as think I get money, that I don’t work or worth helping. Jealousy of adapted car, irritation as may be in their way on street, young people think its funny, therefore worth ridiculing me, some truly believe we are drain on society, should never be allowed to be born or live, others think easy target.”

Another identified a freak-show element: “Mockery of disability. The teenagers concerned were known to the police and to local school teachers as perennial troublemakers.”

These came up again: The perpetrators were three young women who were shouting at a middle-aged man with Down’s Syndrome and calling him brain dead….Their motivation appears to be ignorance and/or perceived comedy value.”

Question 5: What gender was your attacker?

69 respondents answered this question and 31 skipped it.

30% of sole attackers were male, and 17% female. Interestingly, there was more than one attacker in 49% of cases and in most of those women were involved (accounting for the rest of the attackers). It’s worth mentioning that in the latest Crown Prosecution Service Hate Crime Report, women are defendants in around 25% of disability hate crimes, but only around 13-15% of other forms of hate crimes, except crimes against older people, where they are also defendants in around 22% of the cases. Clearly, as I have written before, there needs to be far more research on the role of women in disability hate crime (and older people, a cross-cutting group).

One person recalled:

“Pushed from chair by women, verbally abused by both men and women. Usually older people.”

Another said: “Male in most incidents, some verbal incidents have included females in group (at least one group appeared to be a family with adult children), one verbal incident involved a female only.”

Another wrote: “Worst incident – an older white woman. Otherwise, mostly men.”

Another wrote: “Two separate incidents attacked by black male gang of young men, attack on street Young mother with child abused me in shop car park.

Question 6: What was the approximate age of your attacker?

Age of attackers: 61 answered this, and 39 skipped it. The percentages did not add up to 100%, because of group attacks.

Under 16: 19.67% (12)

16-20: 18.03% (11)

21-30: 32.79% (20)

31-40: 32.79% (20)

41-50: 29.51 (18)

51-60: 11.48% (7)

61 and over 11.48% (7)

Prefer not to say 3.28% (2)

Many pointed out they were attacked by more than one person, so more than one age group but perhaps there is a small chink of light that the percentages of attacks by younger people are slightly lower than people in the midrange for age.

Question 7: What do you think was the ethnic group of your attacker?

63 answered and 37 skipped

90% of attackers were white, 5% were mixed heritage, and other counted for 5%

White people are slightly over-represented as attackers in this survey – the last census found that 86% of the population identify as white.


Question 8: What is your gender?

71 answered and 29 skipped.

53% of respondents were female, and 45% male, with others preferring not to say.

Question 9: What is your ethnicity?

94% were white, 1% were mixed heritage, 1% was a highly identifiable racial group (so I am not including it here) and the remaining preferred not to say.

If you would like to join the Network and have an interest in disability hate crime, please go to:

If you would like to know more about disability hate crime, you can read the first report I wrote:

If you would like to read my book, Scapegoat: why we are failing disabled people (Portobello, 2011), an investigation into disability hate crime in the UK and further afield, you can buy it in good bookshops or online at: